kiwi cabinet slice selection with meringues

On Your Marks…Get Set…BAKE!

Hello and welcome to the Great Kiwi Baking Blog!

I am, rather obviously, a fan of the Great British Bake Off and I’m thrilled that an iteration of the show has been launched that celebrates the baking of New Zealand, my current home.

Before I moved here, I believed that Kiwi cuisine was pretty much just an austral reflection of British cuisine. Not that I would find that disappointing – I lived in London while I attended culinary school, so I know just how good British food can be if you get beyond the tourist traps in major cities. But I didn’t really expect to encounter anything new down here. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

new zealand yams or south american uqa/oca
New Zealand yams or South American uqa/oca/cubio

Well, okay, that’s not true – I definitely could have been more wrong, because you can definitely see British influences in the cuisine here, but a lot of other influences have come into play as well, resulting in dishes that are distinctly and iconically Kiwi.

And what has been even more eye-opening is the surprise that locals express when I reveal that such-and-such is not a common thing everywhere in the world. It’s almost as if they feel their cuisine is so ordinary that only a troglodyte would not know about lolly cake or feijoas; it doesn’t seem to register as special or unique.

new zealand slices cabinet food caramel slice lolly cake ginger crunch
Caramel Slice, Lolly Cake, Ginger Crunch

So that’s why I’m excited about the Great Kiwi Bake Off. I think it’s a lovely opportunity to showcase some of the unique aspects of New Zealand cuisine, as well as some of our local talent in the kitchen.

As for this blog, well… as a relative newcomer to Kiwi cuisine, I’ve been doing some deep dives into the background of some of these classic Kiwi bakes because I’ve always been interested in culinary history. I’m curious where ideas came from, how recipes developed and evolved and changed over time and how the stories behind the recipes evolved and changed over time. And maybe….just, maybe….there’s someone out there who might also be interested.

And for those who prefer baking blogs, there will be some of that too. Because even though I’m a trained chef, I only trained on the savoury side. While I’ve certainly picked up a thing or two about bread and pastry over the last decade of working in professional kitchens, I wouldn’t say I’m great at it.  I’m still that person who will fuck up Russian fudge not only once but thrice in immediate succession. At work.

chocolate souffle fail
High altitude chocolate soufflé fail

So while I hope this little project helps me brush up my baking skills and have some laughs, I’m really looking forward to learning and connecting with my adopted home, and sharing that process with you.

On your marks,

get set,

bake!

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